Anyone can see how radical the GOP candidates have become through their own religious supporters
As a Poli-Sci major, you usually learn that in presidential politics, the radicals from each party never make it to the general election. For the GOP Candidates of 2016, this political truth is now a thing from the past.
If you think there is a moderate among the Republican presidential candidates, you must be day-dreaming. Even relatively reasonable John Kasich, an enemy of Planned Parenthood who talks about women leaving the kitchen to vote for him, is no moderate.
But the evidence that shows how radical the GOP has become can be seen through their religious supporters. Out of the five candidates that are still running, only three stand a chance, and all three have ties with extremist right wing organizations.
Take for example, the most “moderate” of the contenders. With the end of Bush and Christie’s presidential campaigns, the establishment is now coalescing around their most viable option. Sure, Rubio doesn’t call Mexicans rapists, and his people don’t beat up Black Lives Matter protesters at rallies. But he still touts his endorsements from the religious right proudly. Whether on Fox News or his campaign website, Rubio has fended off attacks of not being a true conservative through the nods of approval from the Family Research Council (FRC).
The Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled the FRC a hate group. The FRC, formed in the 1980’s, and has been at the center of the religious rights battles against gay marriage. They have been responsible for spreading the idea that gays are pedophiles, gay parents can’t adopt, and gays can be converted through therapy. Their president, Tony Perkins, characterizes homosexuals as ” very aggressive, intolerant…hateful, vile.”
The purpose of the establishment rallying behind Rubio is to have a candidate who can be more appealing to the general electorate. But when more and more Americans are accepting that members of the LGBT community deserve equal rights, it is hard to see how Rubio’s connection to the FRC could help the establishment’s cause.
Donald Trump’s appeal with evangelicals has often been questioned. But his results in Nevada and South Carolina have put these doubts to rest. As if it weren’t enough, he also enjoys the support from Robert Jeffress who is a known homophobe and Islmaophobe.
But what makes Jeffress particularly different is his intolerance towards other Christian sects. In 2011, Jeffress was condemned by many religious leaders and conservatives for saying that Mormonism is a cult and therefore, Mitt Romney was not Christian. Most recently, Jeffress has been one of Donald Trump’s most ardent defenders in his feud with the Pope, and has said that the Catholic Church is the “Genius of Satan”.
In face of support from an Anti-catholic, anti-Mormon pastor, Trump won the evangelical vote in Nevada and South Carolina. Could it be that some of these evangelicals share the same bigoted views? Most likely.
Trump also enjoys support from Pastor Carl Gallups, who delivered a prayer at the infamous “Freedom Kids” rally. Gallups is an End Times preacher who believes that America’s acceptance of homosexuality and abortion rights are responsible for the turmoil in the stock markets, gays will enslave Americans, and that common core will be used to teach pre-schoolers about homosexual intimacy.
Of course, much of Gallups sermons are full of lies and fear mongering. But there’s a reason Trump loves the poorly educated.
No candidate enjoys more support from the far right than Ted Cruz. Back in November, Ted Cruz attended a religious liberties conference with Kevin Swanson, a notorious anti-gay advocate who has thrown his support behind Uganda’s Kill the Gays Bill of 2009. Although as of late, Ted Cruz has recognized that his connection with Swanson was a mistake, he still enjoys the support of many radical figures.
Perhaps the most radical figure in the Cruz camp is his father, Rafael Cruz. Cruz Sr. believes that America will end in thirty years if Obama gets to appoint a Supreme Court justice, and believes that secular humanism and atheism will lead to sexual perversion
Rafael Cruz also belongs to a radical doctrine of Christianity called Dominionism, a belief which says that Christianity should dominate all aspects of society. As Cruz Sr. writes in his latest book,
“The Bible tells us that we are the salt of the earth and light of the world… Doesn’t that suggest that our influence should touch every area of society—our families, the media, sports, arts and entertainment, education, business, and government?”
In other words, Rafael Cruz wants to have a totalitarian Christian society where every single aspect of this society is subject to religious teachings, not reason or independent thinking.
Although there is much to fight for, our society has gone through much progress in terms of getting rid of outdated beliefs and misconceptions. The influence of radical religion is slowly declining and more people are becoming tolerant of lifestyles that would have been considered evil and abnormal years ago.
All we need to do is look back to 2008, when President Obama and Hillary Clinton still stood by the idea that marriage can only be between a man and a woman. Nowadays, a Democrat without social progressive credentials is booed off the stage.
Which is why it is odd that in the face of progress, the religious right has found the 2016 election as a perfect time to revitalize their movement and make their platforms part of the mainstream in the Republican party.
Recently, I watched an interview by the Young Turks with a Ted Cruz supporter. The interviewee, a young man, basically talked about how people with religious and “traditional values” felt their values were “under attack”.
Perhaps it’s true that the influence of religious fanaticism is dying down. But as religious conservatives become aware of the inevitable loss of traction of their ideology, they keep fighting back even harder.